(PSA: I add memes to break up the story, to give my heart a break and to add humor to an otherwise humorless situation)
I have told this story a few times but have yet to tell it here. I wrote the prequel to this the night that this situation kicked off and we spent a few days trying to resolve the issues in order to be sure that we were properly advocating for the Frog Princess and so that we were sure that her best interest was top of mind for all parties involved.
On Valentine's day, we made our way to what we thought was a regular ol' parent teacher conference. We had 15 minutes. In the past, that time was spent reviewing grades, being told where she averaged and us asking questions about what we could do to help the kid and what we could help the teacher reinforce.
We were lacking in a sitter that night and I think it was for the best. The Frog Princess came in with us and sat in a corner reading a book. As soon as we took our seats, the first thing we heard was that she was missing 5 classwork assignments (they call it centers work).
There was a certain level of confusion because…it's classwork. How is she missing classwork? The project manager in me went into post-mortem mode. How does this happen? Can you take us through what they do in centers? How is the work provided? What should she be doing during that time?
The purpose of my questions was to pinpoint what in the heck our kid was doing other than work. To make sure that if it was something happening with her behavior, it could be corrected.
But also, let's be real. We were trying to figure out why this was the very first time we'd been hearing that she'd missed 5 assignments within a couple of months.
Meanwhile, we are getting *blank stare* by the teacher who doesn't necessarily seem to want to provide answers to our questions. It appeared from her mannerisms, her posture and her words that she wasn't really here to help us fix this issue. The Frog Princess has made honor roll her first two semesters at this school. We were confused as to why the communication system generally used (Class Dojo) hadn't been used to at least give us a heads up that she'd been missing work. The short story that we were given was that she must not have done it and that she's been talking a lot in class (we'd received communication of the talking when the kids returned from vacation and had put a stop to it as evidenced by the lack of negative dojos since we had a come to Jesus convo with our kid).
We took a detour from that conversation to discuss the fact that, once again, our 7-year old had completely missed answering 2 pages in a test. She did, however, have enough time to draw a full portrait of her and a friend including trees, baby birds in a nest, a squirrel, grass, flowers…you name it.
Listen, let me take this time to tell you our kid is not perfect. We know this. But there's something to be said about sitting across from a teacher that seems completely unable to provide options/guidance/suggestions when a child is not performing at their peak. But, maybe it's us. I had to ask this question, y'all. Time and again, though, our educator friends seemed perplexed at the behavior.
There was something else addressed and we came back to the classwork. The words we speak are with the focus of "how can we help our child in your classroom" and "how can we help you do your job". Hearing from educator friends, we know this is not easy work and so we've always wanted to lend our full support.
At one point, exacerbated by the combative tone and posture that we were receiving, the Frog Princess's dad chuckled. Knowing him, I know this to be his "I can't believe this" chuckle. At that point, the teacher turned to him and asked him what he thought was funny. Full stop.
He says he's frustrated and is trying to get to the bottom of what has been happening in class so that we could make sure we get our kid doing her work. We then present her with a test that we'd received back that week where 2 questions were marked wrong that were, in fact, right.
Upon seeing the questions, the teacher states that "those are the correct answers, I marked them wrong" to which he responds "that's okay, everyone makes mistakes, right?". The teacher begins to correct the response on the test and update the grade book.
Pondering moment: I wonder how many times this has happened? I feel like I go through her tests and we discuss the wrong answers so we make sure that she knows what the right response was but this left me concerned.
It is at this time, as she was doing that, that he asks if "this" has anything to do what with happened last semester. The teacher responded that she would never hold anything against a student "no matter how I feel about the parents". (you guise!)
After this statement is made she then tells us that she is no longer meeting with us without an administrator. She also states that we laughed at her teaching methods. When he tries to respond, she tells him "yes, I know it's sarcasm and humor. I know that personality, it's the same as my dad's". So now we have to fight with daddy issues too?
I repeat the statement back "so if I'm understanding this correctly, you are not meeting with us about our child without an administrator?". She says yes.
With that, we get up to leave in disbelief. No suggestions were made for how we could help the kid. No plans were created. No collaboration was to be found.
We left there upset, to say the least. The Frog Princess did not go to school the following day as we waited for a response to the call we'd placed as soon as we left the school that day. A call did not come early enough for me the next morning (we called the school again and left another message first thing that next day) so I went to the school and waited to speak to someone.
What Happened Next:
- The head of students spoke to me then and told me she was aware of the situation but "wanted to hear your side".
- The next day, the Frog Princess stayed home once again and we met with the head of students and the principal. He's the one that renewed my faith that perhaps the Frog Princess would get fair treatment in that classroom moving forward. After over 2 hours behind closed doors.
- We were told that access to grades was readily available and we should've known prior to the meeting that the Frog Princess was missing work. In all honesty, I have yet to find real-time data on the site (all I see are reports when they are published). I'm hoping someone can take me through the system in case I am missing something obvious.
- The Friday she returned to school, progress reports were handed out. A note was also handed out to her class stating that there had been a glitch in the EdLine system and the progress reports were incorrect (this progress report had my daughter failing math, btw). A few days later, new grades were provided but I still wonder about what happened in that grading system that we were told was up-to-date within 24 hours of grades being completed.
I have more to say about the meeting, and more to say about the implications of our education system later. For now, know this: we struggled with the decision to keep her in that classroom (hell, to keep her in that school). We still wonder if that was the right move.